How to Defuse Your Frustration 5/16/99

Luke 21:25-28

JESUS CHRIST spoke of a time when there would be “distress among nations, with perplexity…” and of “men’s hearts failing them.”

This summarily speaks of a time of great frustration. Nationally and internationally that potential is becoming increasingly clear. Perhaps you personally are facing a time of frustration.

Certainly it appears a broad segment of our nation is experiencing an epidemic of frustration. You know frustration.

Frustration is an emotion fathered by anger. It causes our blood pressure to rise, our breathing to accelerate, the pitch and volume of our voice to heighten.

Frustration results from us reacting against seemingly impossible circumstances.

One country comic said, “It makes me so mad I could eat a goatburger!” That’s frustration.

Frustration is the fruit of our failure to succeed and achieve. It is the outgrowth of our inability to reach a goal. It occurs when our hopes fade and our dreams die.

Frustration is a Ulysses on his odyssey coming to a rain- swollen river which he must cross and, finding it flooded, wades out into it waist-deep and beats it with a chain. Such frustrated response does no good. How many times have you found your stream flooded at the wrong time and flogged it with a chain?

Frustration is a little boy who has beaten on a locked door until exhausted and finally sits down and cries. Have you been there? Sure, all of us have been.

When that which promises to be exhilarating proves to be exasperating, we end up frustrated.

Webster defines frustration as “a deep chronic sense of insecurity arising from unresolved problems.”

You know that from your own experience. It is when you want something or want to do something real badly and things happen that just step in your way and shout “NOT.”

You have seen it, or perhaps you have been the one seen, whose plans are frustrated and you go ballistic.

Youth experience it when they get all “jacked up” and life kicks out the jack, causing a big letdown.

Frustration is a Moses coming to a much-needed spring of water and finding it dry, starts beating on the rock with his rod.

It is a John who gets fed up with the opposition and asks Jesus to call down fire from heaven on them.

Do you ever feel as frustrated as the fellow who bought a new boomerang and had trouble throwing the old one away?

At times you can feel it building. Resources aren’t available or have run out, time to act is elapsing, people to help have abandoned and the pressure rises until finally “melt-down.”

It is you senselessly honking your horn in a traffic jam.

It is our response to a comedy of confusing circumstances that keep us from being punctual at an appointment.

It’s kicking carpet when things just won’t go right.

It’s our reaction to the toaster which burns our toast and smokes up the house when we are in a hurry to get going.

It’s the burning of Los Angeles when a jury reaches a verdict that from the public view seems to be wrong.

In general there are two types of frustrations.

There are episode frustrations which are temporary problems, such as missing an important phone call, trying to get a knot out of a shoestring while friends call you a klutz or worse, or being unable to solve a computer glitch.

An episode of frustration is you slamming the refrigerator door because your favorite snack isn’t there.

It’s you kicking the cat or dog because someone chewed you out when you didn’t deserve it.

There are process frustrations which occur when a person continuously feels blocked in an area of life. Process frustrations build up and cause major problems.

It is you and circumstances standing face to face with life shouting “no way” and you responding “yes way” and circumstances won’t yield.

A few years ago psychologist William Knaus wrote a book entitled “How to Conquer Your Frustrations.” Some of his observations are worthy of noting. He said:

1. Frustrations exist when our wants, wishes, and desires get thwarted or interrupted. The feeling results from disparities between what we want and what we find available. For example, when our level of aspiration exceeds our level of achievement, we will likely experience frustration.

2. Frustrations can range from imperceptible to powerful.

3. Frustration starts from a feeling of discomfort.

4. We cause our frustrations because of what and how we think about our frustrations.

5. Strong frustrations result in mixed emotional states that have a disorganizing effect on memory and behavior.

6. Depending on how we interpret our feelings of frustration, they can stimulate positive change, aggression, regression, complacency, or compulsive behavior.

This last one means you choose how you will respond to your frustrations. Options are available to you. You are not a slave to your heredity or environment. You have willpower. You are responsible.

Therefore, from a Biblical perspective, let’s consider how to deal with our frustrations. First consider some DON’TS.


In their time of frustration many people try to find someone or something to blame in order to justify themselves. “They made me do it,” is a cover-all for all sorts of inexcusable attitudes and actions.

Remember, Dr. Knaus said, “We cause our frustrations because of what and how we think…”

Solomon wisely wrote: “As a man thinks in his heart so is he” (Proverbs 23:7). If an individual or a group gets to thinking they have been wronged and have the right to destructively retaliate, violence results.

Few people are willing to take responsibility for their own actions. One of the most extreme possibilities I have heard of in this matter relates to a report that peanut butter allegedly increases one’s sex drive. Can’t you just hear some rapist pleading innocent in a court of law declaring: “I am innocent, Jiffy made me do it.”

READ: MARK 7:20 – 23.

“…each of us shall give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).

Never do wrong in order to get a chance to do right.

“Do not evil that good may come.”

“See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourself and for all” (I Thes. 5:15).

John the Baptist was God’s oracle who said, “Do violence to no man” (Luke 3:14).

Proverbs 16:32 reminds us: “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty, And he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.”

Psalms 11:5, “The Lord tests the righteous, But the wicked and the one who loves violence His soul hates.”

Violence may hurt others but it doesn’t help you.

Don’t get “ballistic” over your frustrations.

Plato said, “The good man will suffer evil rather than do evil.”

Romans 12:17-19 is a case study in how to respond without a vengeful spirit.

1. Live Honestly. “Repay no one evil for evil” (Vs. 17). The great Booker T. Washington said, “I will not allow any man to make me lower myself by hating him.”

2. Live Harmoniously. “If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men” (Vs. 18). Do all you can, without compromising your convictions, to achieve peace and harmony.

3. Live Humbly. “Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath … Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Vs. 19).

“Do not avenge yourselves” means don’t take the law in your own hands.

Don’t retaliate in like manner. If vengeance is God’s business, get out of His way and let Him to His work. He doesn’t need your help.

“Give place to wrath” is better understood as translated in the Goodspeed version: “leave room for God’s anger.” That is, get out of God’s way and let Him work. Don’t get so involved that God’s anger boils over on you also.


Realizing we have frustrations we must learn how to deal with them.

Earlier, psychologist Dr. William Knaus was quoted as saying frustration can “stimulate positive change.” Resolve to let it do so. Work for positive change.

“The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in the time of trouble” (Psalms 9:9).

To the oppressed, refuge is offered. There are many oppressed in our land. You are on occasion oppressed by circumstances or people. All of us are.

We are a generation that has been taught to demand its rights. No race of any generation has been so committed to demanding rights. Because of the popularity of this mentality, I know I make myself vulnerable to criticism for espousing a contrary concept. Let the Scripture speak for itself.

“Let each esteem others better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).

“In honor preferring one another” (Romans 12:10).

Can you imagine Christ demanding His rights. “Here Peter, you take this towel and bowl and wash my feet. That’s your job – not mine.”

“Cast your burden on the Lord and He shall sustain you” (Psalms 55:22).

You can express frustrations to the Lord. He cares for you.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, the brilliant Russian literary genius, was imprisoned in a horrible Siberian camp because of his religious and political views.

Consider the emotional, cultural, financial, or educational prison in which you might presently be. He had no contact with the outside world and was subjected to strenuous work under adverse conditions.

His frustration drove him to consider suicide, but his faith would not allow it.

Earlier I quoted Dr. Knaus as saying frustration could have a “disorganizing effect on memory and behavior.” In that frustrated state Solzhenitsyn contrived a plan. “I will run in an attempt to escape. They will shoot me, but it will not be suicide.”

Frustration had driven him to the brink of self-destruction.

Just as he was about to spring up and run, another prisoner whom he had not seen before came and stood in front of him. Of this one Solzhenitsyn said, “He looked into my eyes as though he could read my thoughts.”

These prisoners were not even allowed to speak, so no words of encouragement were forthcoming. Then, with a stick, as though doodling, the unknown old prisoner drew a cross in the dirt and walked away.

Solzhenitsyn said, “I knew he was a messenger from God and that what I was doing was wrong. I settled down to trust God.”

It was a moment of unqualified trust. Little did he know at the moment that the impossible was about to happen. Within a few days he was a free man in Switzerland, having been miraculously released unexpectedly.

By not waiting on the Lord you may be about to prevent Him from doing a great and mighty work in your life.

“Wait on the Lord, run not before Him.”